How far will you robot-ify yourself?Jul 12 04:23
An unspoken division is slowly happening in the disability community right now and we have exoskeletons to blame. The question is simple: Would you or wouldn't you use an exoskeleton?
The prospect of strapping on metal, computer chips and plastic parts to get up and start walking again isn't exactly the "miracle" cure most people have in mind when they think about getting cured (well it wasn't, until recently that is).
But if you've waited for years like so many of us have to walk again (most of us have waited so long we've forgotten what it's like to walk) your indifference to using man-made materials to walk again can begin to dissipate. Amanda Boxtel, this groom who just got married, all the spinal cord injured representatives of Esko Bionics, each of these individuals prove there's a lot of us out there who will take any type of walking-solution that comes our way. It's better than nothing, they say? Or is it?
Then you have the group of wheelers who want nothing to do with this walking-technology. "Becoming a robot" (the common criticism used to describe it) isn't something a lot of people envision for themselves. It never sits right. I think I can closely relate to this camp too. I’ll find myself thinking, “If I can't feel my legs, do I even want to walk? Is it safe?” Or maybe....I'm judging it too harshly?
Maybe if exoskeletons were more streamlined and less bulky (you could wear them underneath your clothes) I would feel differently, but as the current technology stands - hellooooo I’m coming into the room look at meee! - wearing something like this on a daily basis would make me feel very un-human. Very.
I prefer to show skin, not gears. This is not the solution I've been waiting for.
What do you say? Will you robot-ify yourself to get full mobility, or are you planning on waiting for the real thing?
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1. BlueZoneCJohn | Jul 13 05:44
I'm with U on this one, Tiff - it's about way more than just walking or standing again. I've gotten pretty efficient in my chair over the last 12.5 years & I don't think these exoskeletons move very efficiently. I mean didn't it take that courageous woman something like 17 days 2 complete the London Marathon this spring in an exoskeleton? I will say, however, that there may B a market 4 home use. If these exoskeletons can offer a more cost effective solution than an expensive home modification 2 accommodate a wheelchair, then they might have something there. Of course, that means these devices would need 2 B able 2 climb stairs, side step, pivot 360 degrees in place, etc. & they'd need 2 B able 2 do it as efficiently as we can transfer and maneuver around in our chairs. But perhaps it is 2 early 2 judge. Who knows, 100 years from now, they might B able 2 be worn under clothing, have a day or more worth of power supply, & B able 2 perfectly replicate all aspects of human leg movement.
2. Tiffiny | Jul 23 02:34
@BlueZoneCJohn I agree. They need to be able to move much more efficiently if I ever want to consider one. Lets hope it doesn't take 100 yrs! I'll be looking really ragged by then
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Tiffiny Carlson is freelance writer and writes the “SCI Life” column for New Mobility. She's also a C6 quad from a diving accident that occurred when she was 14 years old. A lifelong resident of Minneapolis, Tiffiny has been a writer in the disability community for over 10 years and writes for several publications and blogs, as well as her personal blog BeautyAbility. Her work has also appeared in mainstream publications such as Nerve.com and Playgirl.